Have you ever felt nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation? Maybe you have felt nervous before meeting someone new or doing a big presentation! While public speaking or walking into a roomful of strangers isn’t exactly thrilling for everybody, most people can get through it. If you have social anxiety though, you would find it too much to handle the stress from these situations. "Normal" things other people consider such as making small talk and eye contact could make someone feel so uncomfortable to the point where they have to avoid all social contact. Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and your other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. But social anxiety disorder doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your potential-treatment can help you overcome your symptoms.
When Does It Happen?
Anyone with social anxiety disorder can experience it in different ways. But here are some common situations that people tend to have trouble with:
Talking to strangers
Speaking in public
Making eye contact
Using public restrooms
Going to parties
Eating in front of other people
Going to school or work
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder?
It's important to remember that just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations, this doesn't automatically mean you have social anxiety disorder. So for example, it's perfectly normal to feel nervous before giving a presentation. But if you have social anxiety, you may worry for weeks ahead of time and you may try to call in sick to get out of it, or start sweating and shaking during the speech to the point where you can hardly speak. Below are a few common signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
Emotional Signs and Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you don’t know
Fear that you’ll act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate yourself
Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous
Physical Signs and Symptoms
Red face, or blushing
Shortness of breath
Upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies)
Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice)
Racing heart or tightness in chest
Sweating or hot flashes
Feeling dizzy or faint
Behavioural Signs and Symptoms
Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves
Social Anxiety Activities To Get Better
1. Improve Your Health
Do everything in your power to ensure that poor physical health is not contributing to your problems with anxiety. If you do not already exercise regularly, start planning a program for yourself today. Exercise not only increases feelings of well-being and reduces anxiety, but if done in the company of others it offers the chance to build up your social skills in a relatively non-threatening environment.
2. Start Saying Yes
Perhaps you have gotten into a rut of saying "No" to everything. Instead, why not start saying "Yes?" If you are invited to do something social, try to make a habit out of accepting the invitation. Although you might feel anxious at first, over time the more you do, the less fearful you will become. The next time an invitation crosses your desk or someone at work asks you to join the group for a coffee break, make an effort to go.
Sometimes people with social anxiety spend so much time worrying and fretting that they forget to laugh and have fun. When was the last time you watched a funny movie that made you laugh out loud? Who was the last person that made you chuckle? Try to bring more laughter into your life. If you aren't having fun, what is the point?
4. Congratulate yourself
You might not be a confident public speaker, but there are a lot of things in your life to be proud of. Recognize that you face more challenges than others and that you should feel good about the small accomplishments in your life. Some days you can even feel proud that you made it out of the house. Build on small achievements and you will feel better about yourself.
5. Challenge Yourself
Are you working at a job that doesn't make use of your skills and talents? Have you always taken the "safe" route because of your social anxiety? Try breaking out of a rut by leaving your safe zone and taking on those challenges that help you grow as a person.
Accept the promotion at work, go back to school for a new career, or start your own business. Follow your passion and your dreams and don't let social anxiety stand in your way!
6. Keep a journal
Keep a daily journal so that you can see how much you have improved. Writing about your thoughts and experiences will also help you recognize when you are falling back into old habits and negative-thinking pattern
Written by Megumi (3LB Team).
Bhandari, S. (2019). What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder#1
Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
Smith, M., Segal, J., & Shubin, J. (2020). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder.html
Cuncin, A. (2020). Social Anxiety Activities to Get Better. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/social-anxiety-disorder-tips-3024209